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Washington Post launches online correction form

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Readers of the Washington Post can now correct a story, provide feedback and suggest future coverage—all with the click of a mouse.

The recently launched feature provides a link to a correction form for each online article. Readers can use the form to report any errors they believe they spot—both factual and grammatical—and suggest ways to improve coverage on the topic. Editors then review the submitted posts throughout the day, and make corrections as needed.

Recently, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) published a new guide for newspapers and magazines, clarifying the standards for online corrections. Typically, editors are obliged to publish corrections with “due prominence”—but how this is defined online has been unclear in the past. The new guide requires editors to take steps such as linking a correction to the original article, and making sure that apologies can be found through a search engine.

Editors at the Post hope the new model will help the paper make these corrections faster, and provide a direct line of communication to readers. So far, online users have expressed enthusiasm about the change.

This is the latest move on the part of the Post to connect with readers. In January, the paper launched a crowdsourced fact-checking mechanism with a "Pinocchio rating."

“Hallelujah! The next step for the Post’s management will be to ensure that such corrections are actually made, and in a timely manner,” a commenter, DCSteve1, wrote on the site.

Photo by MikeyCouture, Creative Commons Attribution License

Mixing UK and US standards

Without any explanation there is a reference to the Press Complaints Commission, a UK governmental body, in the middle of a story about a U.S. newspaper's complaint mechanism. For the uninitiated it might appear that the Washington Post is somehow subject or connected to the Press Complaints Commission. We're talking about two national media systems here and we have no equivalent to the PCC in the U.S.. The fact is that American newspapers aren't generally beholden to UK authority and standards. Our First Amendment makes a big difference in the free press equation. Perhaps it might make more sense to tell the Post's story and then say "Meanwhile, in the UK....." Best, Joel Campbell Associate Professor - journalism Brigham Young University Provo, Utah

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